Gage County’s budget for the fiscal year has been set, with a 3.68 percent increase over the previous year.

The Gage County Board of Supervisors approved the budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year during its meeting Wednesday.

The budget was approved as previously discussed at earlier meetings, with no major changes.

Budget talks started with a 15 percent overall increase, though the board was able to trim that figure, first to around 7 percent, before lowing the increase to under 4 percent, with a total tax asking of $9.6 million, including a road bond issue.

This tax asking will come with a levy of .297594.

The increases compare to a $9.29 million tax request and a .288082 levy in the 2016-2017 fiscal year.

County Board member Gary Lytle commended the board and county departments for keeping their budget increases to a minimum.

“I think this is a pretty well-constructed budget proposal,” Lytle said. “It’s pretty conservative again. I think this board has done a good job of coming to a number, that while I would like to see it be a flat budget and there’s probably areas we could make that happen, I think this is prudent at this time.”

Board member Matt Bauman added that input from the community is helpful, and encouraged Gage County residents to share their ideas with the board.

“I appreciate the feedback that the other board members get from their districts,” Bauman said. “We do want input. We encourage people to look at this. If the public has ideas, we want to know that.”

Wages and benefits account for $5.2 million of the budget.

The budget marks the biggest percentage increase for Gage County in the last five budget cycles.

For the 2012-2013 budget year, a 2 percent increase was approved, followed by increases of 3.51, 1.67, 1.06 and 2.88 percent through the 2016-2017 fiscal year.

Reducing the budget increase from initial asking required substantial cutting, primarily from the highway department, sheriff’s office and jail budgets.

The road and bridge department requested an increase of 27 percent, while the jail requested a 27.5 percent increase and the sheriff’s office requested 13.9 percent.

The road and bridge budget received an increase of 4.5 percent compared to last year, while the sheriff’s office and jail budgets are each 10 percent higher.

The budget was approved unanimously 6-0, with board member Terry Jurgens absent.

Lytle said the board will continue searching for ways to keep budget increases at a minimum moving forward.

“As a county, we need to look for more ways to be efficient, and more efficient all the time, and look for more ways to save money,” Lytle said. “Moving forward, it’s going to be more and more difficult to continue to ask for dollars from the constituents of this county. Each one of our departments needs to make sure they’re looking at their budgets.”

Reach Scott Koperski at scott.koperski@beatricedailysun.com. Follow him on Twitter @ScottKoperski.

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